Copying Is Often Efficient And Smart

from the it's-not-so-bad dept

A couple months ago, we mentioned the book Copycats, which highlights how copying others is often a good overall business strategy, not just for companies, but for innovation as a whole (and, from that, society at large). I've since gotten a copy of the book, though haven't had a chance to read it (getting to it... eventually...). But it's interesting to see others picking up on the same idea, outside of the book (or did they just copy it?). Peter Friedman points us to a Business Week column by Scott Berkun, who has done lots of writing on this topic, highlighting how wasteful it is to have everyone trying to "reinvent" stuff that's already been invented (often reinventing it in a "worse" way). His argument, like the one in the Copycats book, is that we need to get over this stigma that copying is somehow "bad."
Right now, in meetings at corporations around the world, the wise are suffering. They are trapped in rooms where debate rages over how to solve a problem. The rub is that the problem has already been solved, just not by someone in the room--and solutions from outside are ignored. This is the disease known as "NIH," or "Not Invented Here" syndrome, and it's alive and well in 2010. Despite our many technological advancements in communication, none have eliminated this perennial waste of time. Why is this problem so hard to shake? Will we always be confronted with people who insist on reinventing wheels?
It's good to see more people discussing this basic topic, as the cultural stigma against building off of what others have done is really quite disturbing, and underlies many of the arguments in favor of bad copyright and patent laws. Getting people to realize that building on the works of others has produced wonderful things, while also being much more efficient, is a key to rethinking how we view concepts like "intellectual property."


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 17th, 2010 @ 4:11am

    The thing is people get hung up on trying to sell things that aren't physical or tangible (ideas) instead of things that are (products/services).

    And once the disease is inside you, it is very hard to break away from that kind of thinking.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
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    Richard (profile), Jun 17th, 2010 @ 4:26am

    Look at the economic success of the far east

    Where copying is regarded much more favourably than in the west for proof of this.

    Having said that I have to admit that I'm one of those people who much prefers to re-invent stuff rather than copy - but that isn't because I think there is something wrong with copying - its because I enjoy the re-invention process.

     

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  3.  
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    Technopolitical (profile), Jun 17th, 2010 @ 4:47am

    Copying Is Often Efficient And Smart

    Ideas : yes it is -- sometimes.

    Creations of Artists : No -- unless you are a Good Faith-ed Artist.

    -----------------------

    MIKE : "and underlies many of the arguments in favor of bad copyright and patent laws."

    Me: Patents : yes I agree , the law needs fixing.

    Copyright -- better laws to protects Artists and writers are coming. (Face it.)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
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    bradmoreso (profile), Jun 17th, 2010 @ 4:49am

    Not Invented Here syndrome

    My first job out after university was with a SCADA firm whose flagship product was a status/control system for electric utility providers. The product was written completely from scratch, i.e., the real-time database was written in-house. The software didn't even use TCP/IP.

    The problems were predictable: Deadlines were consistently missed, all 14 contracted projects were late, the attrition rate grew exponentially, and, of course, bugs, bugs, bugs. The standalone, 100% custom system took one hour to boot, which made testing a nightmare for developers.

    Eventually the product was ported to a major vendor version of UNIX.

     

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  5.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 17th, 2010 @ 5:11am

    Re: Copying Is Often Efficient And Smart

    I like it when you post.

    It always gets me a good laugh.

    You're either insane, stupid, or paid to be ignorant. No matter which one, it's very amusing to us sane intelligent people.

    Kudos!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
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    Technopolitical (profile), Jun 17th, 2010 @ 5:14am

    Re: Re: Copying Is Often Efficient And Smart

    Hey ,Anonymous Coward,, where is your resume posted here?

     

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  7.  
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    Malibu Cusser, Jun 17th, 2010 @ 5:26am

    The way 'they' see it, copying and/or building upon someone else's idea/product is fine, as long as you are paying 'them' the exorbitant licensing fee.

     

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  8.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 17th, 2010 @ 5:32am

    Re: Re: Re: Copying Is Often Efficient And Smart

    "where is your resume posted here?"

    Oh, my ... I did not realize that was a prerequisite to posting.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
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    Technopolitical (profile), Jun 17th, 2010 @ 5:37am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Copying Is Often Efficient And Smart

    should be.

     

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  10.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 17th, 2010 @ 5:41am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Copying Is Often Efficient And Smart

    If you want Citizendium, you know where to find it.

     

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  11.  
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    Kari, Jun 17th, 2010 @ 5:43am

    Re:

    Think windows vs apple. Windows allowed others to build upon it. Apple was a closed ecosystem. Which prevailed? Windows. It provided time savings and a variety of products that could be built upon which Apple did not.

     

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  12.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 17th, 2010 @ 5:57am

    Re: Re: Re: Copying Is Often Efficient And Smart

    Do you read your own posts? You can't even properly use the English language and you are talking about resumes?

    Case in point: " ,, "

    F-; See me after class.

     

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  13.  
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    Kurata, Jun 17th, 2010 @ 6:00am

    Well, an economical principle states the following :

    First, a country starts off as being poor
    Then, it proceeds to beginning to manufacture some products for other countries
    Afterward, it begins copying other countries' products to make a breach
    After copying, it proceeds to improving the product to make it its own after which, true development begins.

    I think it is the same for a company :
    It starts off small, produces for others, then copy a product, and improve it in its own way therefore increasing concurrence, and eventually if it manages, to be its own big company.

     

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  14.  
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    Russian guy, Jun 17th, 2010 @ 6:36am

    Copyright vs Science

    People, take a look at the science.
    The only way to succeed in science is to build up on the achievements of the predecessors.
    If there were copyright laws enforced in the science then we would still be running around in Stone Age.
    The scientists care about the origins of the breakthrough knowledge but they encourage its usage.
    The modern society should probably rearm itself with the scientific approach to copyright.

     

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  15.  
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    Kurata, Jun 17th, 2010 @ 6:40am

    Re: Copyright vs Science

    Well instead of copyrights, they got patents.
    And i guess patents was totally better for India when they wanted to make drugs to fight AIDS for themselves, instead of buying from the USA.

     

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  16.  
    identicon
    Russian guy, Jun 17th, 2010 @ 7:54am

    Re: Re: Copyright vs Science

    Please, do not mix up a pure science and the scientists working/researching for corporations to build a (profitable) product/service.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
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    Technopolitical (profile), Jun 17th, 2010 @ 8:05am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Copying Is Often Efficient And Smart

    techdirt here ,, is a posting board , not formal academic writing.

     

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  18.  
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    Archeologist, Jun 17th, 2010 @ 8:06am

    Re: Copyright vs Science

    When the copyright law were enforced in Stone Age, the only one survivor would carry a stone ax while all the other (disarmed) folks were eaten by Saber-toothed tigers. Pure guys couldn't by a license because there were no money invented, yet.

     

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  19.  
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    NAMELESS.ONE, Jun 17th, 2010 @ 8:12am

    Which is why

    THE RIAA, MPAA, BSA,IFPI and all the letters they like to use form sesamea street

    ARE FUCKING RETARDS

     

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  20.  
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    Kari, Jun 17th, 2010 @ 8:40am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Copying Is Often Efficient And Smart

    No, but it advertises one's formal academic writing poorly and few people would attach a resume to such writing.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21.  
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    Technopolitical (profile), Jun 17th, 2010 @ 9:32am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Copying Is Often Efficient And Smart

    hey , Karl,, been through this 20 X already ,

    I have dyslexia , a serious and well established DISABILITY.
    When i write formal , i hire a proof reader ,, this is not formal.

    Bug off, Karl.

     

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  22.  
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    Bengie, Jun 17th, 2010 @ 10:12am

    It's not just "copy/paste"

    Since we're talking about solving problems, I'm assuming this is patent discussion.

    Typically, whomever did all the research into a complex area has a HUGE advantage over someone else who tries to "copy" them. Intel could make a general patent to cover a certain process, but I bet another company implementing it could take years and even then it wouldn't be as good as Intel because Intel would have all the knowledge about the little tweaks to make it work smoothly.

     

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  23.  
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    Atkray (profile), Jun 17th, 2010 @ 10:16am

    Re: Re:

    See also: Firewire vs USB.

     

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  24.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 17th, 2010 @ 11:17am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Copying Is Often Efficient And Smart

    You should really learn how to READ. It's Kari and not Karl. Fucking moron.

     

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  25.  
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    noesbueno (profile), Jun 17th, 2010 @ 12:42pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Copying Is Often Efficient And Smart

    chill out, karl.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26.  
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    Technopolitical (profile), Jun 17th, 2010 @ 2:12pm

    Kari and not Karl.

    1] show or shows my point ,

    dyslexia ,is a disability that affects reading.

    "Kari and not Karl." on a computer screen ,

    through bi-focals ,,,, at 2 foot distance.-----
    ------------------
    -----------
    --------
    ,,,,give me a brake,

    the foul language was unneeded--- and grossly offensive , in this instance. I clearly was talking about dyslexia for me and you write :

    "You should really learn how to READ. It's Kari and not Karl. Fucking moron."

    Disgusting.

    Absolutely & Grossly Disgusting.

    AND it shows more about your insensitivity,,

    to a person w/ a disability than it does about whether ,

    I am a "f-ing M".

    -----------
    -----------

    To Mike :

    Too much on my spelling and typing.

    EVEN after specifically posting it in the thread in question -- like this one.

    Dyslexia is an "established disability",,

    and just as with "racism",, any form of discrimination , or harassment thereof , is "wrong", "immoral" & even "illegal".

    Most every posting board I have ever participated in , would lock out "any comment" disparaging "ANY issue" , of "race" , "religion" , "sexual orientation" or "disability" .

    I see you have a new rating system.

    I hope it will be used in instances such as these to lock out those commentators who "violate social norms" -- that are "legally enforceable" if "repeated without restraint".

    You are the webmaster Mike.

    I hold you responsible for the comments here.

    This ====
    "You should really learn how to READ. It's Kari and not Karl. Fucking moron."

    to someone who just wrote :
    "been through this 20 X already , I have dyslexia , a serious and well established DISABILITY. When i write formal , i hire a proof reader ,, this is not formal. Bug off,"


    === IS out of bounds , even for TechDirt.

    IF Happens again,, ..................

    Please do not try me.
    =============================end........==========

     

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  27.  
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    Marcel de Jong (profile), Jun 17th, 2010 @ 3:07pm

    Re: Kari and not Karl.

    Do you seriously hold Mike responsible for the opinions and words from his visitors? That's rich, sir.

    So, by your statement, if I were to send you a letter filled with hate speech, you'd hold the post office accountable for delivering the nasty letter? Good luck with that one.

    You are either dense, or incredibly delusional, or a very good actor trying to pass off as a copyright nitwit.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28.  
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    Marcel de Jong (profile), Jun 17th, 2010 @ 3:08pm

    Re: Kari and not Karl.

    Btw, you did see the "report" button, didn't you?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  29.  
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    Technopolitical (profile), Jun 17th, 2010 @ 3:55pm

    Re: Re: Kari and not Karl.

    You : "So, by your statement, if I were to send you a letter filled with hate speech, you'd hold the post office accountable for delivering the nasty letter? Good luck with that one."

    ME :web masters are equally responsible in this situation , as i understand the law, ---- and I said IF it happens again.

    Using the U.S. Mail for and "illegal" purpose is mail fraud et al.

    Because the letter is private and unopened the Post office is clearly not responsible.

    Here it is a public comment , on a public posting board.
    ------------------------

    You :You are either dense, or incredibly delusional, or a very good actor trying to pass off as a copyright nitwit.

    Me : I am none of the above. AT all .

    Just as an "employer" would be responsible for an "employee" who "repeatably harassed" "another employee",
    so too , IF it happens again here with my dyslexic , being subject to abuse, yes , Mike , would share responsibly.
    =====================

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  30.  
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    Technopolitical (profile), Jun 17th, 2010 @ 3:57pm

    Re: Re: Kari and not Karl.

    I did . But I like the light of day.

    It is the best defense of civil rights from abuse .

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  31.  
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    Richard (profile), Jun 17th, 2010 @ 4:07pm

    Re: Kari and not Karl.

    If you were not so persistently rude to most of the commenters on this site then people would not be so rude to you. You only reap what you sow.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  32.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 17th, 2010 @ 4:52pm

    "which highlights how copying others is often a good overall business strategy, not just for companies, but for innovation as a whole " - but you miss the one basic problem: it is incredibly bad for the ones who originated and came up with the root idea(s). when you copy, you copy from someone or something, which cost someone something to make. copying is great for the companies or individuals who dont have to go through the time or expense to develop the original idea, just to make a copy. but if they are too successful, those who make the original ideas will be less inclined to come up with those original ideas, as it is more profitable just to copy. soon enough, you have few original ideas and tons of copying, which obviously means less true innovation, and more innovation by paint color or box shape. that in the end is not good for society, now is it?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  33.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 17th, 2010 @ 5:10pm

    Re: Kari and not Karl.

    I'm trying you know, learn how to read moron.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  34.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 17th, 2010 @ 6:16pm

    Re: Re: Re: Kari and not Karl.

    Sorry, what, I was too busy raping some art.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  35.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Jun 18th, 2010 @ 1:59am

    Re: Kari and not Karl.

    === IS out of bounds , even for TechDirt.

    IF Happens again,, ..................

    Please do not try me.


    TP, just a day ago, you said "fuck you" directly to me after I posted a system to help musicians such as yourself. And now you're threatening to blame me for a similar comment made to you?

    And, no, webmasters are not responsible for the comments on the site. I'd never take responsibility for the drivel you write.

    But if you want to be "tried," go ahead.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  36.  
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    Marcel de Jong (profile), Jun 18th, 2010 @ 5:36am

    Re: Re: Re: Kari and not Karl.

    How can the act of me sending you a nasty letter ever be construed as mail fraud?

    You: "Here it is a public comment , on a public posting board."
    Yes, but the comments were between 2 individuals.
    I think that the safe harbor provisions apply here. Mike has no influence over the comment-section.
    Or would you say that Mike is responsible for your comments too? In that case, who owns the copyright over your posts? You? Or Mike?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  37.  
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    Marcel de Jong (profile), Jun 18th, 2010 @ 5:38am

    Re: Re: Re: Kari and not Karl.

    This response makes no sense whatsoever...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  38.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 18th, 2010 @ 7:29am

    Re:

    Except that ideas do not come from a vacuum. The "original idea" was most probably based on several prior ideas, arranged in a novel way. If you cannot "copy" these prior ideas and add your own touch on top, you cannot innovate.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  39.  
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    Technopolitical (profile), Jun 18th, 2010 @ 9:51am

    Re: Re: Kari and not Karl.

    the comets are VERY different.:::

    1]the comment that ticked me off -- was aimed at my disability -- dyslexia. Pure harassment under "the Americans with Disabilities Act"

    2] my "F.U." to you Mike , was to your ridiculous opinions.-- and is protected speech.

    3] HUUUUGE difference --legally

    4] if you do not see that -- see you in court , and the Judge will explain it to you.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  40.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Jun 18th, 2010 @ 10:56am

    Re: Re: Re: Kari and not Karl.

    1]the comment that ticked me off -- was aimed at my disability -- dyslexia. Pure harassment under "the Americans with Disabilities Act"

    I believe you are misreading the ADA, but if you would like to test that in court, go for it.

    Either way, your dispute would be with the commenter, not with us. If you would like a long list of case law on this matter, my lawyer will be happy to deliver it to you, at your expense.

    2] my "F.U." to you Mike , was to your ridiculous opinions.-- and is protected speech.

    Both were responses to opinions and both were protected speech.

    3] HUUUUGE difference --legally

    Actually, no, it's not. I would suggest that there are lots of ways to get a legal education. Bringing a lawsuit based on a faulty understanding of the laws is not an efficient one.

    4] if you do not see that -- see you in court , and the Judge will explain it to you.

    Wait, now you're threatening to sue me?

    Please look up Section 230 of the CDA, as well as California's anti-SLAPP laws. Both would be relevant, and would save you a lot of trouble (and wasted money). Also, make sure your attorney understands rule 11 sanctions. Because all three of those things will come into play.

    This is the last time I will address this here and I hope it is the last time you address it as well. If you continue to threaten to sue us without basis, please be aware that there are legal responses we may take.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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